Local historian gives presentation on Leadville’s winter wonder

In November 1895, more than 250 men began working around the clock in Leadville to build a palace made of ice. They completed the 58,000 square-foot frozen castle less than 40 days later, using 307,000 board feet of lumber and 5,000 tons of ice. The Ice Palace towers reached a height of 90 feet; the structure covered 5 acres of land and held an ice rink, restaurant, ballroom, gaming room and carousel house. Historically, this is the only ice palace to have ever been actually utilized, and it drew thousands of visitors from around the globe. But it all came to an end during the warm spring of 1896.

People congregate and ice skate inside the Ice Palace. The one-winter palace covered 5 acres of land (courtesy photo).

Local historian and author Darlene Godat will present photos of the palace at the Lake County Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 15. Friends of the Library, a non-profit charitable group formed to support the library, will host the donation-based event, based on Godat’s book The Ice Palace: A Colossus in the Rockies.

Janice Fox, local history coordinator and system administrator at the library, said Godat has a family connection to the palace, motivating her to write the book. “She has more photos and information than anybody. Darlene is the expert, and she is a neat lady.”

This is the second presentation by Godat at the library, but Fox said the Buena Vista author has presented on the topic in Leadville numerous times since the book’s publication in 1994.

Although the event is free and open to the public, space is limited to 75 people, so Fox suggested calling or stopping by the library in advance to reserve a seat. For more information call Lake County Public Library at 486-0569.